NMG’s Martin snaps photo of ‘homeless’ man, leading to reunion

Jacquelyn Martin Photo by Melissa Golden

Jacquelyn Martin
Photo by Melissa Golden

NMG member Jacquelyn Martin, an AP photographer in Washington, D.C., turned a day shooting weather art in early January into a desperate family’s reunion with a son who’d gone missing.

To illustrate a brutal cold snap, Martin was photographing a group of homeless men warming themselves around a steam grate just blocks from the U.S. Capitol.  The group included one man, huddled under blanket, who attracted her attention because he was so young man. He told her his name was “Nick.”

Photo of homeless man "Nick" Simmons, by Martin

Photo of homeless man “Nick” Simmons, by Martin

Little did she know that the 20-year-old man had disappeared from his parents’ upstate New York home on New Year’s Day _ without his phone, wallet or coat.

Martin’s photo of Nicholas Simmons, taken a few days later, ran in publications including the Sunday USA Today edition. A Simmons family friend helping with the search spotted the photo and notified the family via a Facebook page set up to help find the young man.

Martin, contacted by USA Today less than a day after snapping her photos, provided directions so the man could be located. He was picked up and, as a precaution, taken to a hospital, where his father and older brother soon arrived for a reunion.

His mother, Michelle Simmons, posted a Facebook message calling his discovery divine intervention. “Nick is alive but obviously not well … We are going to get him home and safe,” she wrote.

The mother later told The Associated Press that her son disappeared after a discussion about what he was going to do with his future.